The documentary film Rebirth is a prescient and patient project by Jim Whitaker. The year after the 9/11 attacks in New York City, he had the foresight to recruit five people whose lives had been dramatically altered by the destruction of the World Trade Center towers: a severely burned survivor, a teenager who lost his mother, a young woman who lost her fiancée, a construction worker whose brother was killed, and a firefighter who lost a coworker who was his best friend. Starting in 2002, Whitaker interviewed each of them annually through 2009. We see them in close-up against a black backdrop, remembering, describing scars both physical and emotional, expressing disbelief and anger, occasionally choking back tears. After each year’s interviews, Whitaker inserts video clips and photos of what was going on at Ground Zero. The 9/11 Memorial slowly takes shape, and the five people age, change appearance and speak candidly of how they’ve adjusted and begun to get on with their lives. It’s a time-lapse study in acceptance and healing, a lesson that speaks not just to surviving 9/11 but to our fundamental existence. For outlining a path to hope and renewal with grace, forthrightness and quiet eloquence, Rebirth receives a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Producers: Jim Whitaker, David Solomon. Director: Jim Whitaker. Director of Photography: Thomas Lappin. Editors: Kevin Filippini, Brad Fuller